Govt pays tribute to missionary Brennan who tended to orphans
Father Brennan's mission of love and charity to give dignity to human life encouraged him to be a foster-father to the orphans and abandoned children of Thailand.
The Christian community in Thailand has launched fund raising initiatives to support the orphanage founded by Father Ray Brennan, a Redemptorist missionary from the U.S.
On the tenth anniversary of his death, the government of Pattaya organized a month-long commemoration, which culminated with a rally at the city's promenade on December 8. Thousands of people from various religious communities participated in events to promote his legacy.
Father Brennan who died on August 16, 2003, was known for his charitable work. Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej had sent emissaries to his funeral in Pattaya with a case of royal soil to be buried with the priest, the highest honour granted to the people of Thailand.
Father Brennan was born to a Catholic family in Chicago in 1932 and was ordained a priest of the St. Louis province of the Redemptorists order. In the early 1960s he was sent to Loei in far-northern Thailand to administer a parish and to serve American troops in Thailand near the border with Laos and Vietnam.
After ten years he was sent to Pattaya, a city on the Bay of Bangkok, serving as a pastor and an auxiliary chaplain to American troops at the nearby Utapao airport and military base.
During a Sunday Mass in 1974, a women brought her baby and handed him over to Father Brennan; she could not keep the child, as she had lost his father. The priest accepted care of the child and eventually developed an orphanage.
Father Peter Srivorakul, president of the Father Ray Foundation, said that the priest had changed Pattaya's image, and that more than 2,000 disabled children have secured livelihoods through the work he started.
Father Brennan's mission of love and charity to give dignity to human life encouraged him to be a foster-father to the orphans and abandoned children of Thailand, said his missionary companion Father Mathew Vrasak Buranapol.
The Father Ray Foundation now operates an orphanage in Pattaya which accommodates 850 children from across Thailand who have been orphaned, abused, born on the streets, and are disadvantaged or have disabilities such as autism or blindness.
The Redemptorists associated with the foundation run a vocational school for the disabled, and a school for the blind which is under the patronage of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
It also runs two orphanages, an outreach centre for those living on the streets, a day care and a centre for children with special needs.
Source: Catholic News Agency